ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
74°
Sunny
H 89° L 74°
  • cloudy-day
    74°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 89° L 74°
  • clear-day
    91°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 89° L 74°
  • clear-day
    87°
    Evening
    Sunny. H 95° L 77°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Mueller: Trump obstruction failed because aides refused orders to undermine Russia probe
Close

Mueller: Trump obstruction failed because aides refused orders to undermine Russia probe

Mueller: Trump obstruction failed because aides refused orders to undermine Russia probe

Mueller: Trump obstruction failed because aides refused orders to undermine Russia probe

In a redacted 448 page report delivered to Congress Thursday by Attorney General William Barr, Special Counsel Robert Mueller detailed a series of actions by President Donald Trump to rein in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, clearly stating that while Mr. Trump tried to undermine the Russia investigation, his efforts were stymied mainly because top aides and other government officials ignored his demands for action.

Prime among them was White House Counsel Don McGahn, who told investigators that the President ordered him to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in June of 2017, soon after press reports emerged that the President was under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.

"McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre," referring to the  episode in the Watergate investigation where President Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox.

Later, when press reports emerged stating that the President has ordered McGahn to fire Mueller, the report says the President then 'directed White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed.'

McGahn again refused to follow the President's order - defying him in an Oval Office meeting.

"McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle," the report concluded.

There were other stories of top aides similarly ignoring the President, such as Corey Lewandowski, who was told by Mr. Trump to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to publicly state that the Russia investigation was 'very unfair' to Mr. Trump.

First in June of 2017, then again a month later, Mr. Trump used a private meeting to press Lewandowski - an outside adviser - to get Sessions 'to limit the Special Counsel investigation to future election interference.'

But like the White House Counsel, Lewandowski balked, and refused to follow the President's request, going so far as to ask a senior White House official - Rich Dearborn - to do the dirty work for him.

"Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through," the report stated.

The report also details how the President tried to lobby senior leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community to help him limit the Russia probe, as Mr. Trump complained to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, his daily intelligence briefers, and top officials at the National Security Agency.

In late March of 2017, the President complained directly to DNI Coats, who counseled that it would be best to allow the investigations to 'run their course,' and not interfere with the work of FBI Director James Comey.

While Coats did not tell investigators that he felt directly pressured to act, his top aides told a different story, that "Coats was upset because the President has asked him to contact Comey to convince him there was nothing to the Russia investigation."

Mr. Trump also called the head of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, to weigh in on the Russia investigation - a conversation that so alarmed Rogers and a top deputy that they immediately drafted a memo, and placed it in an NSA safe to memorialize the communications with the President, much as Comey had done after his own meetings with Mr. Trump.

Intelligence officials also said the President complained about the Russia investigation during his daily briefings, and asking for messages of support in the news media.

"On at least two occasions, the President began Presidential Daily Briefings by stating that there was no collusion with Russia and he hoped a press statement to that effect could be issued," the report said.

NSA chief Rogers recalled a private talk with Mr. Trump where the President vented his frustration, "and said something like the 'Russia thing has got to go away.'"

In another example from July of 2017, President Trump was ready to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but encountered resistance from White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

"Even though Priebus did not intend to carry out the President's directive, he told the President he would get Sessions to resign," the report stated.

Priebus later told the President that Sessions could not be ousted, because other top officials - including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand would also resign - setting off a Saturday Night Massacre type of situation for President Trump.

Close

Mueller: Trump obstruction failed because aides refused orders to undermine Russia probe

In the end, the Mueller investigation found that top aides to the President had saved Mr. Trump from possible legal jeopardy, mainly by ignoring his demands on the Russia investigation.

"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," the Mueller report concluded.

Top Democrats in Congress immediately made clear they want more information about the obstruction matters.

"As we continue to review the report, one thing is clear: Attorney General Barr presented a conclusion that the president did not obstruct justice while Mueller's report appears to undercut that finding," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.

Not surprisingly, the White House saw things differently, as the redacted version of the Mueller report was issued.

On the issue of collusion, the Mueller report stated the investigation 'identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign' - but that there was no evidence that the campaign had 'conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.'

Mueller seems likely to be asked directly about his investigation in May, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said he would ask Mueller to testify next month.

Attorney General Barr is already scheduled for two days of testimony before the House and Senate on May 1 and May 2.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Ahead of the holiday season, UPS has announced it plans to hire more than 1,200 people in the Jacksonville-area. We're told the positions are a combination of seasonal and permanent jobs and include the following:  670 package handlers  235 delivery and tractor-trailer drivers  325 driver helpers UPS says oftentimes these seasonal roles can led to a career with the company, with about 35% of people hired for seasonal package handler jobs in the past four years staying on with the company after the holidays.  Nationwide, UPS is looking to hire 100,000 seasonal jobs to help with the busy holiday shipping season. “We expect another record peak season this year, with daily package deliveries nearly doubling compared to our average of 20 million per day. In order to make that happen, once again we’re recruiting more than 100,000 people for some of the country’s best seasonal jobs,” says Jim Barber, COO, in a statement. Locally, UPS is hiring at the following two locations: 4420 Imeson Road, Jacksonville, FL 32220 12400 Presidents Court, Jacksonville FL, 32219 Tractor-trailer and package car driver jobs start at $21.00 per hour, while pay for package handlers and driver helpers starts at $14.00 per hour. If you’re interested in applying, UPS says you have to apply online at UPSjobs.com.
  • Get ready for higher local gas prices over the next few weeks after an attack on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend. Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy says the good news is it won’t be a quick spike in prices. He says you can expect the prices to go up gradually until they get 15 to 30 cents a gallon higher than they are now. “This is going to feel very much like what we see every spring with gas prices start to go higher every spring and it could last a few weeks,” DeHaan says. He says it won’t be any worse than some higher prices we’ve seen in the past due to hurricanes or other natural disasters. DaHaan says it’s also not a good idea to run to the pump to fill up your tank as soon as you can, because if everyone does that it could cause a bigger issue.
  • Following an article posted by The New York Times this weekend, several Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on allegations of sexual misconduct from his time as a student at Yale University. On Sunday, the Times reported that Kavanaugh faced a separate allegation of sexual assault from his undergraduate days and that the FBI did not investigate the claim. However, the story has come under some scrutiny. The Times tweeted a promotion for the story, which they later deleted and apologized for, then added an editor's note to the online story explaining that the female student mentioned in the new claim declined to be interviewed about the allegations and that friends say she does not recall the incident. The Times' article was an excerpt from a book about Kavanaugh that is to come out in a couple of weeks. Kavanaugh fought sexual assault allegations prior to his confirmation by the Senate last October, facing many in Congress who said he was unfit for the position. Amid the renewed call from Democratic candidates and others in Congress, many are asking if and how a Supreme Court justice, who is appointed to the position for life, can be removed from the bench. Here's a look at the impeachment process for sitting federal judges and others. >> Read more trending news  Can a Supreme Court justice be impeached? Yes, a Supreme Court justice can be impeached. Article II Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to impeach federal judges and gives to the U.S. Senate the right to vote to remove judges who have been impeached. The section reads: 'The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.' Judges are considered part of the 'all civil Officers of the United States' portion of the section. What can a Supreme Court justice be impeached for? The Constitution lays out two specific actions and one vague description of something that could lead to impeachment and removal of a justice from the bench. The Constitution says a person may be removed from office for convictions of 'Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.' While treason and bribery are spelled out, high crimes and misdemeanors are a little vaguer. High crimes and misdemeanors are generally seen as a violation of the public's trust. Sexual assault would fall under that category. How does impeachment work? Impeachment for justices works the same way as impeachment for a president or vice president would work. Here are the steps in the process for impeaching a federal justice: In the House First, an impeachment resolution must be introduced by a member of the House of Representatives. The speaker of the House must then direct the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary (or a special committee) to hold a hearing on the resolution to decide whether to put the measure to a vote by the full chamber and when to hold such a vote. A simple majority of the Judiciary Committee must approve the resolution. If the Judiciary Committee approves the resolution, it moves to a full vote on the House floor. If a simple majority of the those present and voting in the House approve an article of impeachment, then the justice is impeached. In the Senate The procedure then moves to the Senate where a 'trial' is held to determine if the justice committed a crime. There is no set procedure for the trial. Details outlining how the trial is conducted would be set by the Senate leadership. Members of the House serve as 'managers' in the Senate trial. Managers serve a similar role as prosecutors do in a criminal trial, they present evidence during the procedure. The justice can have counsel to represent him during the Senate process. Unlike in the trials of an impeached president or vice president, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would not preside over the trial of a justice. In an impeachment trial of a Supreme Court justice, the vice president would oversee the proceedings. Senators listen to the evidence presented, including closing arguments from each side and retire to deliberate. Senators then reconvene and vote on whether the justice is guilty or not guilty of the actions he is accused of. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict. If the justice is found guilty, he is removed from office immediately. The result of the hearing in the Senate, along with a charge in the House that a justice has committed a crime is not a legal one. No penalty, other than removal from office, is brought against a justice in an impeachment hearing. Has any Supreme Court justice been impeached? Samuel Chase, who was appointed by President George Washington, was impeached in 1804 for 'arbitrary, oppressive, and unjust' decisions on the court. The Senate declined to remove Chase from office on the House's recommendation of impeachment, saying a justice should not be removed from the court because his or her decisions are not popular.
  • A longtime assistant Los Angeles city attorney killed himself last week after gunning down his wife and 19-year-old son, police officials said. Authorities were alerted to the killings when Eric Lertzman’s daughter, 25, fled to a neighbor’s house after escaping through a bathroom window, according to an LAPD news release. The dead include Lertzman, 60; his wife, Sandra Lertzman, also 60; and their 19-year-old son Michael Lertzman. The daughter’s identity was not revealed by police, but Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer identified her as Rachel Lertzman. Sandy Lertzman's sister, Cindy Stern, wrote on Facebook of the shock of the tragedy. “You never think this is going to happen to your immediate family,” Stern wrote. “Still in shock, but completely heartbroken about losing my dear sister Sandy, nephew Michael and brother-in-law Eric to gun violence today. Grateful beyond words that Rachel survived.” A GoFundMe page set up to help Rachel Lertzman in the wake of her family’s deaths had raised more than $122,000 as of Monday morning. >> Read more trending news According to police, dispatchers received a call around 9 a.m. Wednesday for shots fired and an assault with a deadly weapon at the Lertzman home in Northridge. Greg Demos, the neighbor from whom Rachel Lertzman sought help, told KTLA she ran over in her pajamas and said her father had tried to shoot her. She was “upset, confused distraught, somewhat in shock,” as she recounted what happened, Demos told the news station. “‘I don’t know what to tell you, Greg, but this is what just happened in my house, and I don’t know what to do,’” Demos recalled her telling him. “She said, ‘My dad took a shot at me, and my mom and my brother are still inside.’” Demos told ABC7 in Los Angeles that he and Rachel Lertzman ran back to the family’s home. “I went with her to the door and I knocked on the door, yelled. Nothing,” Demos told the news station. “We went to the back. She had locked the doors and left. She said my mom and my brother are still inside. We pummeled on the door, yelled for her dad, yelled her mother’s name and brother’s name. No answer. “And that's when we called the police.” Police officials said the investigation showed Eric Lertzman shot and killed his wife in their bedroom, then attempted to shoot his daughter in her bedroom across the hall. She locked herself in a bathroom for safety. Lertzman then went to his son, Michael, and killed him, authorities said. Watch ABC7's live coverage of the police response to the Lertzman home below. “During this time, (Rachel Lertzman) escaped through the bathroom window and ran to a neighbor’s residence,” the news release said. “Eric returned to the master bedroom, where he turned the weapon on himself, ending his own life.” According to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office, Eric Lertzman died of a gunshot wound to the head. Both Michael and Sandra Lertzman died of multiple gunshot wounds. Their deaths were classified as homicides, while Eric Lertzman's death was labeled a suicide. Two handguns were found in the home, according to police. Feuer said on Twitter that Eric Lertzman had been with the city attorney’s office since 2005. “This is a horrible tragedy,” Feuer said in a statement. “As we search for answers to how this could happen, we mourn the victims and envelop those left behind with our love during this time of unbearable loss. Of course, we will provide members of our city attorney family with needed counseling and support.” Police officials said detectives were still searching for a motive, but “investigators believe the recent loss of a loved one and ongoing health issues played a significant role.” Eric Lertzman’s mother, Phyllis Lertzman, died Aug. 26, according to her obituary. NBC Los Angeles reported that Eric Lertzman had taken leave from work after undergoing a recent colon surgery. The attorney's health had deteriorated over the past year or so, neighbors said. “Just terrible it came to this, that he couldn’t reach out to us or other family members for help,” longtime family friend Russ Beck told the news station. Beck described Eric Lertzman as a “kind soul” who enjoyed riding dirt bikes until his health no longer allowed it. Lertzman’s Facebook page, which had little activity, shows him standing next to a motorcycle and wearing riding gear. Eric and Sandy Lertzman had been married for 33 years, according to social media posts. A post on Sandy Lertzman's Facebook page indicated they celebrated their anniversary Aug. 24, less than three weeks before the homicides. In a 2016 Facebook post, Sandy Lertzman described her husband as a “supreme” husband and father. “I love you forever and can’t wait to share at least the next 30 years with you,” she wrote. In a 2017 anniversary post, which was accompanied by a wedding photo, she described Eric Lertzman as her best friend. Sandy Lertzman also heaped praise on her children on social media. On a birthday post about Rachel Lertzman, the proud mother described her as “amazing, beautiful, charismatic, dedicated, ever-environmental, fabulous, gorgeous, honest, intelligent, journey-driven, kind, loving, multitalented, nondiscriminatory, over-the-top, passionate, quick-witted.” When Michael Lertzman turned 18 in 2017, she wrote: “You are an awesome human being, and we are proud of you and love you! XO, Mom and Dad.” She expressed similar sentiments in October, when her son turned 19. 'From the day you were born, you've brightened our world, and we're very proud of you for the awesome person you are,' she wrote. Family and friends of the Lertzman family expressed shock and sorrow over the killings. Aviva Eagle, who described herself as a cousin, said Sandy Lertzman was “always full of love and always smiling.” Eagle described Michael Lertzman, a student at California State University Northridge, as smart with his whole future ahead of him. Alan Dreiman, president of the university’s chapter of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, wrote of the teen’s warmth. “Michael was a shining light in our lives, a wound that will never heal,” Dreiman wrote. “A huge thank you to everyone who has offered support. That is the only thing getting everyone through these terrible times. Our condolences are sent out to family, friends, and the community. May we all stay strong.” Chabad at CSUN, the university’s Jewish Student Center, also mourned him on social media. “We are beyond devastated by the horrific news of today,” a post on the group’s Facebook page read. “Chabad at CSUN stands with our AEPI (Alpha Epsilon Pi) brothers, as well as the Northridge community.” Camp Alonim, a program of the American Jewish University-Brandeis Bardin Campus in Simi Valley, said the teen was a longtime camper and staff member. “Mikey’s personal warmth, his gentle spirit, his wide smile and his infectious enthusiasm will never be forgotten,” the group’s Facebook page read. “He will always be a beloved member of our Camp Alonim family. We send our deepest condolences to his sister, Rachel (CIT '10), and the many people whose lives Mikey touched.” A woman named Erica Hartman responded that she had seen Michael Lertzman the Friday before he was killed. “He ALWAYS had a smile on his face and greeted everyone with nothing short of genuine happiness,” Hartman wrote. “We are devastated by this horrible news,” Julie Hertel wrote. “I know there are many current and former campers, my daughter included, that are heartbroken, shocked and numb to hear this news. “Campers should look to their camp family to help them through this difficult time. It helps to be with or talk with others that knew and loved Mikey. Share your stories and memories about him, this will bring comfort to you and your friends. My heart goes out to everyone impacted by this awful situation.”
  • A firefighter died and six other people were wounded Monday morning in a suspected propane gas explosion in Maine. >> Read more trending news  Farmington police Chief Jack Peck said a firefighter died after authorities were called just after 8 am. Monday to investigate a gas smell at a building on Farmington Falls Road. He said the LEAP building at 313 Farmington Falls Road exploded while firefighters were investigating the smell. 'All of us are one big family. We all know each other, especially in a small town,' Peck told reporters Monday at a news conference. 'We all feel for (the slain firefighter's) family. ... It affects us deeply.' Four other firefighters, an employee who works at the building and an ambulance worker were also injured, he said. Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said the explosion left behind 'total devastation.' Images from the scene showed scattered debris and smoke. 'It looks like a war zone here,' Landry told WMTW. 'The newly constructed building is gone. The adjacent building is half down. (Firefighters) are hosing down what debris is left of the building. Not much.' The explosion took place at the LEAP building, according to the Sun Journal. The nonprofit group works to empower people who have developmental, cognitive and intellectual disabilities, told the Sun Journal that his home shook during the explosion, knocking pictures off his walls. He said when he went outside to investigate, he saw 'complete chaos' and 'complete devastation.' 'It was white insulation, materials everywhere,' he told the Sun Journal. 'I was dumbfounded.' It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, which sent debris and smoke into the sky before 8:30 a.m., though Peck said a preliminary investigation pointed to a possible gas explosion. 'It looks like it may have been a propane or natural gas leak,' Peck said at a news conference. 'That's in the very early stages of investigation.' Police did not immediately identify the firefighter killed in the explosion, citing the need to notify the firefighter's next of kin. Maine Gov. Janet Mills told reporters she knew the slain firefighter. 'Our hearts go out to all the families of the injured and the deceased and all the people in the community,' she said. Peck said Farmington fire Chief Terry Bell was among the people injured. A majority of the victims suffered burn injuries that appeared to be consistent with a building explosion, he said. The explosion took place at the LEAP building, according to the Sun Journal. The nonprofit group works to empower people who have developmental, cognitive and intellectual disabilities, according to the group's website. Mills said the state Fire Marshal's Office would conduct an investigation into the cause of the explosion. 'Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy, especially to the loved ones of the firefighter lost and others injured,' she wrote in a Twitter post. 'I am grateful for the work of first responders who are at the scene and urge Maine people to avoid the area.

The Latest News Videos